The James Franco Test: Feminists fighting internalized patriarchy

I reeeally love James Franco. I held my breath watching 127 Hours, I wondered what the heck was wrong with Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love, and I fell in love by the end of Tristan + Isolde. Admittedly, he has played some questionable roles and many of his movies are straight duds (sorry, but I couldn’t make it 10 minutes into Howl and the promo ads for Spring Breakers are cringe-worthy…).  But Franco has this amazing mix of witty, creative, intelligent, multi-talented drive and retro, scruffy good looks that makes most women (and many men) swoon.  And those Gucci ads? Be still my heart!  Heck, even my brother loves him and just got his curly hair cut in a similar style.  I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but we were checking Franco’s Facebook updates from the bar. We can’t get enough!

So my heart sank when my favorite hipster artsy dream boy popped up in my Facebook trending feed: “James Franco tries to hook up with teen fan?” Jezebel covered the story, postulating: “Maybe this is some kind of performative viral marketing campaign for his upcoming movie about a teenager who falls in love with her school’s football coach? Or maybe James Franco is just a big creep. There’s a 99% chance it’s the latter.” No, not James!  I was shocked.  Do I currently have a pedophile on my desktop wallpaper?

As documented in a series of Instagram messages, Franco had apparently met a 17 year old Scottish girl at an autograph signing. She posted an image of them Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 9.57.10 AMtogether, tagged Franco, and Franco responded by allegedly propositioning her to hook up in a hotel room.  This was after it was made absolutely clear that she was under 18.

I wasn’t as critical about it as I would have liked. Discussing the news with my friends, I noticed that the same victim-blaming, patriarchy-apologist tropes were flying into my mind: “She obviously did this to get attention,” “James Franco would never do that, he’s a great guy!” Wait, what?

James Franco might be the boy-next-door heart throb to young people everywhere, but that doesn’t make him impervious. I started to think about how easily I can get on board when the alleged perpetrators are small town football players or celebrities in fields out of my interest. I have no incentive to doubt the victims. But Franco is dear to my heart and apparently my fandom gets in the way. I’m sure it’s no different at all for basketball fans who could not believe their beloved Kobe Bryant capable of the same. After all, he’s famous, he could get anyone he wants — this chick just wants a minute in the spotlight. Right?

The truth is, this is rarely the case. In a patriarchy, men are almost always given the benefit of a doubt though false rape reports are exceedingly rare. Women do not enjoy that same benefit, with most of us wrongly under the assumption that about half of rape accusations are false.  What’s more, this faulty thinking is usually accompanied with vicious backlash. The deluge of threats, vitriol, and violence that victims usually experience after reporting their attacker (especially if he is famous) has subsequently necessitated shield laws protecting their identity. Given this reality, it is foolish to presume that girls and women are reporting for personal gain. Indeed, they are knowingly taking on a tremendous personal risk in coming forward. There is a reason why so few speak out. Especially when the victim in question is a child, something is seriously wrong when we would prefer to assume the victim a liar and spare a grown man a false accusation.

And so this, ladies and gentlemen, is the James Franco test.  If our Hollywood darling is caught in the act, how will we react? When it really hits home, will we hold true to our training? Will we second-guess women and children when it is a man we love and respect who is in question? At first, I was unclear if the allegation was part of an April Fool’s joke or a promotional stunt for his upcoming film. In a way, I suppose I’m using these possibilities as a crutch — I’m trying to avoid victim-blaming while simultaneously clutching to the belief that certain men can be impervious. Focusing on rumours means I don’t have to really consider that it could be true.

It seems as though this wasn’t a hoax, after all (but who knows, there are still rumours that Franco is doing this to promote his new film, Palo Alto, in which Franco plays a soccer coach carrying on a relationship with one of his teenage players). But ultimately, whether he is guilty or not, our reaction is of significance. Victims should always be given the benefit of a doubt given the ubiquitousness of male violence. Men harass, assault, rape, and even kill women all the time. The statistics make this abundantly clear. This isn’t about attraction, loneliness, or desperation. This is about male power.  Men hurt women and other feminized bodies to assert their dominance. They do it because they can.

Even our modern day James Dean is capable of violence against women. Heck even teen pop idol Justin Bieber exploits prostituted women. This is the thing — no man is incapable of violence against women. Rich and famous men are just as culpable, perhaps even more so given their position of power.  James Franco was raised under patriarchy just like anyone else. And so are feminists, as was made abundantly clear in my struggle to overcome my socialized reaction.

Update – 04//04/2014: Franco responds on Live With Kelly and Michael this morning: “I’m guess I’m, you know, embarrassed, and I guess I’m just a model of how social media is tricky.” Hmmm…. Yeah pretty “tricky” Franco.

 

Corey Lee WrennCorey Lee Wrenn is an instructor of Sociology at Colorado State University, an adjunct professor of Social Psychology with the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, and an adjunct professor of Sociology with Dabney S. Lancaster Community College. She has contributed to One Green Planet, VegFund, Examiner, Feminspire, JezebelThe Feminist Wire, Sociological ImagesSkepchick, and Everyday Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and on her blog, The Academic Abolitionist Vegan

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy, founder and editor of Feminist Current, is a freelance writer and journalist. She completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog. Follow her @meghanemurphy

  • http://furyadept.wordpress.com furyadept

    didn’t he direct a pro kink.com documentary? he was already on my creep list.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I heard that, too…

    • Morgan

      I immediately thought of this when I read the headline. Like anybody should need another reason to be incredibly suspicious of this guy.

  • Michelle

    He’s a pornographer and a womanizer; 17 is probably pretty old for him

  • http://djupgron.wordpress.com Henke

    I have never really grasped on where to place Franco. He has done some extremely well made performances in movies but then, as pointed out in the article here, there are some other performances in movies I wonder what he hell he was thinking.
    I guess it becomes more and more clear his thinking is not always up to par with being a decent human being.

  • marv

    Provocative post Corey! Thanks for your stark honesty about learned gullibility.

    As you are aware, even when celebrities are not known to be sexually exploitative, star power is ideologically patriarchal. It is most often highly gendered and aggrandizing by promoting the celebrity ‘brand’; it legitimizes disableism, economic classes, consumerism and corporate capitalism as well; it is fundamentally hierarchical, despite its pretensions to sex, sex orientation and race equality. As such it contributes to a an already elitist white heterosexual able bodied male political landscape.

    • http://www.veganfeministnetwork.com Corey Wrenn

      Thank you Marv! I’ve seen some early writings of Marti Kheel who has criticized the patriarchal structure of celebrity in the animal rights movement, I think you are right that celebrity is a problem in of itself.

  • PunkRoctorok

    Let me ask this: is trying to have more-than-friends, whether sexual or romantic, interactions with a female minor or even young female adult necessarily misogynistic in all cases? I’m not condoning it so don’t assume I think it’s a okay or advisable. I can see the argument of ‘taking an advantage’ of an emotionally immature girl for sex. But does this necessarily entail disdain or disrespect for women? Can a guy who enjoys hooking up with many females and sees younger women as more opportunities not be pigheaded and disrespectful? What if he makes it an effort to ensure his female partners are both comfortable and sexually satisfied? I’m just wondering why any time there is a stark age difference with the male being older people scream misogyny alongside the other insults hurled his way.

    Back a few years I remember seeing a picture of a bunch of middle age women visibly swooning over the Robert Pattinson actor from Twilight, maybe at an event he was appearing at. The caption read ‘if this was a bunch of middle aged men screaming over a teenaged girl they would be calling the cops.’ Even if the actor may have been a young adult, he was playing a teenage aged character. The issue is gender hypocrisy which is what feminists fight against: as said I don’t condone huge age gaps in relationships but ‘cougars’ who date young men are not chastised for taking advantage of young, impressionable men. The assumption is the man is always the dominant, deciding party in the relationship and putting full agency on him by permitting the women to be older but criticizing the man who has a young girlfriend (young female adults, not just teenagers) is straight capitulation to old gender roles. And the counter argument ‘because men objectify women and just date younger women for sex and an older women is mature enough to date a guy who won’t do that’ is harshly sexist toward men and lumps as all into a pervy, sleazy category.

    Point is why scream misogyny when there is an age difference and a guy tries to sleep with or date a girl 10 years or more younger than him? The assumption is he’s a creep who can’t socialize with his female peers and/or he just sees women as sexual vessels. But neither are fair. When I was 20 I had a fling with my 28 year old female friend and I was more regretful than she was. I was a lot less emotionally mature than she yet I was the one who said it shouldn’t happen again. I just want the general populous to own up to it.

    • http://hkc.com.co Yumi

      Is there a name like “cougar” for old guys who date young girls?

      A cougar is a predatory animal. It’s not a compliment. Basically, women who date younger guys are considered predatory animals by society.

      It appears some women embraced the “cougar” label. I wouldn’t call that progress. Kind of like how using the n-word ironically doesn’t erase its derogatory history.

      I don’t think there is a special name for old guys who date young girls. (Please enlighten me if there is one.) People mostly just kind of have an “oh, typical” reaction to that. A guy has to be into actual children before most people would slap on the “predator” label. Otherwise there’s always the refrain of “they’re consenting adults!”

      But old woman with young guy? It’s not considered typical at all. It’s considered a freak-show that requires a special “predatory animal” label on the woman, even when the guy is a full-grown adult.

      At most maybe we can equate middle-aged women liking Twilight to, let’s say, men liking barely-legal porn. Cops are not called on men who peruse barely-legal porn. Nor does anyone even bother passing around a special captioned photo about it. The middle-aged Twilight fans are being chastised publicly (for being creepy) by that captioned photo. Which means it just negated its own argument. “Women don’t get any flack while guys get all the flack”? Evidently not really. That captioned photo is like a mobius strip of hypocrisy imploding on itself over and over.

      Are there women who are truly predators? Yes there are. Nobody here has said that would be okay, as far as I can see. Not including mentions of cases in which women actually preyed on others in every article pointing out men exhibiting predatory behavior does not equal endorsing predatory behavior when a woman does it.

      • PunkRoctorok

        Thank you for your civil reply, Yumi.

        Perhaps you are right about the pic’s contradictory nature. Though I think the audience who would share and agree with it is much more limited compared to the entertainment news media which most of people of that age group consume as opposed to social media trends.

        Haha, in highschool I remember being at an academic team meet at another school. My friend and I found a bunch of pictures in an (I’m assuming female) janitor’s closet of Edward Cullen. I assume it was female cause the room was unlocked and a woman janitor was out and about cleaning the halls at the time. It was creepy-hilarious.

      • Andrew

        Hey Yumi,

        There’s actually a number of related male terms to cougar. Rhino, manther, lothario to name a few. Dirty old man is a pejorative go-to that equates to the negative stereotype of cougar, while lothario is probably a more positive one.

        There’s been a few articles written on this, sometimes pointing out that cougar came way after similar terms for men. Men are often assumed to be predatory, so a lot of the pejorative terms for them tend to be overlooked.

        It’s all still sexist and derogatory, but since you asked.

      • Dude

        Being called a cougar is more empowering. Everyone would rather be the predator than the prey.

    • Me

      So you felt pushed deeper into a relationship by an older woman when you were 20, beyond what you could cope with and necessarily had wanted. Okay, and I might be sorry. It’s not like it doesn’t happen ever. But why the heck would you turn that experience around and into legitimizing what is typically so much worse when it happens to young women and girls? If you expect to have empathy for what happened to you, where is yours for the women and girls who have the same and much, much worse happen to them all the time, for whom the threat is always there?

      You wrote it yourself: The issue is gender hypocrisy, and you’re being completely hypocritical. Willfully obtuse also.

      If you were pushed yourself, guess what made that easy? Gender. Because men must always want sex and not listen to, or even be aware of, our own feelings about intimacy. Fucking is what’s supposed to get us off, not intimacy and relationship. Guess what? It’s I don’t know how many fucking times worse for women and girls, and neither do you, only that it is. Men rarely get fucked. Had you been played by a 28 year old man when you were 20, that would have been rape, have no doubt about it. And now, years later, you would only be starting to be able to question if it really was rape, to question what really happened and could you call it rape? Wasn’t it consensual? Isn’t that what sex always is like, getting fucked? So why didn’t you like it, and could you hate it and hate the man for it? Didn’t he understand what you were feeling at the time? How could he get off? Why didn’t he care that you never said yes, or did that turn him on?

      It is perfectly fair to say a guy who “tries to sleep with or date a girl 10 years or more younger than him” is a “creep who can’t socialize with his female peers and/or he just sees women as sexual vessels.” Because you don’t own up to this basic social reality, I would view anything you say about predatory women as completely disingenuous.

      Besides that, you should listen to the language you use. Trying to sleep with, trying to have more-than-friends interactions. Creeps and sexual predators do that. It’s about trying to use another, not about relationship.

      • marv

        Your words are always so life giving, Me. You unbind and raise my spirit when I feel dead.

      • PunkRoctorok

        No need to be an ass. Calling me a predator? You don’t know me at all. I wasn’t rude to anyone in the least but you can’t even converse without insulting someone.

        I’m on this site cause I agree with the cause. I’m anti-porn and anti-prostitution. “The threat is always there.” Acting like there are constant predatory men and women are constant victims is delusion and skewed. If you consider being hit on as predatory: ALL women, even feminists, STILL expect for the man to do the approaching and initiating of flirting in 9/10 situations. This is an observable fact of life like facing the door in an elevator. There is a good deal of discrepancy of visible physical maturity in girls from 14-18 and 18-25. My 28 year old friend looked around 23. I know a 19 year old girl who looked the same at 14.

        It’s hypocritical for a woman to expect a potential date to approach her but act like she’s entitled to smear him as a creep or sleaze just because he attempted it. How can he know if he never tries? If courage and risk taking is part of dating, flirting, relationships, hooking up, and love, why throw a guy under the bus cause the girl is severely uninterested and/or she’s really young and he didn’t know? If he’s lewd, sexist, or mean then yea she has every right. But if it’s because of extreme uninterest (and only that) that is wrong and probably contributes to men being sexist, particularly if feminists do it.

        I don’t know why you are so certain of me being malignant. I know literally no males in real life who care anything about feminism except things that are already standards to society (like suffrage and employment). They give no thoughts about the implications of the sexual oppression of women or the moral implications of watching porn. And plenty of my white middle class female peers at my university couldn’t care less because they aren’t minority, colonized, capitalist-exploited women that I also am deeply concerned for. I specifically said I don’t condone it.

        Maybe you thought saying the thing about ‘satisfaction and pleasure’ right after talking about taking advantage if a mature girl was saying doing both was okay. No! I would never have a relationship, sexual or otherwise, with someone that much younger than me, unless the world had ended and I was trying to help repopulate the earth. I merely asked why tack on misogyny along with the other insults hurled at (mainly male) adults who do that.

        There are also girls/women who don’t care at all to sleep with a man way too old for them, who aren’t traumatized, who brag to their friends how they have a highschool or much older boyfriend/lover. They live their lives just fine with it.

        I visit this site at least once every couple of weeks and see how women have traded much of their professional and political oppression for sexual oppression in the last decades. Most men think feminism = man hating, man blaming. I don’t know. Some men think there is the possibility of a situation where a woman is obligated to offer them sex. I don’t. And most women don’t care about feminism anymore than the rights they already have gained: suffrage, education, freedom of sexuality, marriage equality, access to contraception.

        I’m not pretending to be a saint, but if I’m only going to be attacked for asking a question I’m honestly pondering, without approving of any inadvisable behavior like dating way below your age, you are tempting one more person to leave your movement and denounce it all together. You will probably say ‘we don’t need you’. I guess an individual doesn’t make a difference. I will not oppose sexism when I see it, give any input in my male friend’s evaluations of women that may contribute to equity in their lives because I’m not welcome in the movement.

        • PunkRoctorok

          *most men think feminism = man hating, man blaming. I don’t.

        • Me

          We live in a male supremacist society. I wasn’t being rude above, but now I am. Fuck off with your splaining and trying to guilt us into accepting your bullshit for an argument.

          • PunkRoctorok

            You are like an uncivil ape who didn’t get his bananas at snack time soon enough and is beating his chest in protest. Everyone else here managed to reply to me with civility and intelligence but you only know how to call names and use four letter words like a child.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I’ve been deleting your more useless/attacky comments thus far, PunkRoctorok, but that’s quite enough. I’m banning you.

            For the record, everyone else, I wouldn’t normally publish a comment like his last one, but am leaving it up so he’s clear on why he is no longer permitted to comment here.

        • Mads

          Pointing out language in your comment that is also used by creeps and sexual predators isn’t the same as insulting you and calling you one.

          “ALL women, even feminists, STILL expect for the man to do the approaching and initiating of flirting in 9/10 situations. This is an observable fact of life like facing the door in an elevator. ”

          This is a straw man, nothing else. No, not ALL women expect men to take the first step. In fact, plenty don’t. Also how do lesbians figure into this?

          How do you even observe expectations without assuming to know what’s in other people’s heads?

          “It’s hypocritical for a woman to expect a potential date to approach her but act like she’s entitled to smear him as a creep or sleaze just because he attempted it.”

          You haven’t even established that it is a fact that women always expect to be approached. That’s probably, because it isn’t. It’s rather hypocritical of you to speak for women’s expectations.

          “But if it’s because of extreme uninterest (and only that) that is wrong and probably contributes to men being sexist, particularly if feminists do it.”

          Women/feminists pointing out/critiquing the underlying sexism in men’s behaviour doesn’t perpetuate sexism. Sexist behaviour perpetuates sexism.

          What the hell is “extreme uninterest” even supposed to mean? If a women is only mildly disinterested, then what?

          “Maybe you thought saying the thing about ‘satisfaction and pleasure’ right after talking about taking advantage if a mature girl was saying doing both was okay.”

          A girl, by definition, is an underage female human being. Adult females are called women. Calling grown women girls is itself sexist.

          “I merely asked why tack on misogyny along with the other insults hurled at (mainly male) adults who do that.”

          You’re regurgitating the same view as in your previous comment without addressing what Yumi had written. Women are actually vilified and called cougars (predatory animals) when dating younger men. There’s not even a name for older men dating (much) younger women. This clearly shows what is accepted and normalised in our society.

          “I will not oppose sexism when I see it, give any input in my male friend’s evaluations of women that may contribute to equity in their lives because I’m not welcome in the movement.”

          If a few critical views and opinions of what you wrote can already sway you from being a feminist ally, then it seems you weren’t much of one in the first place.

          • PunkRoctorok

            I was under the impression Me WAS calling me a creep, throwing me in with the worst of men, an obstacle to progress. As a feminism-advocate in a world of indifference thats what made me angry. That’s what made me reply with such ardent passion.

            It’s so observable. I can’t believe you are acting like the vast majority of the time the man doesn’t have to make the first move to get a woman’s attention. If the only guys she’s ever been with (in any way) talked to her first, she is conditioned to expect this, and it only reinforces the old gender behavior. Of course I wasn’t talking about lesbians.

            That was actually a typo that meant to say ‘immature girls’ and was actually the only time I believe I said girls in a comment that otherwise refrained on using women.

            I actually really like your third to last paragraph because it deals directly with my question instead of slamming me (when I didn’t mean to anger ANYBODY). Good point, I guess it is a double standard for the most part…but you do occasionally hear the phrase “dirty old man” which I think is as unendearing or endearing, however you wanna spin it.

            I was stating my comment as it was originally intended before Yumi’s input.

            Being attacked on a site I prescribe to a lot of the beliefs of and (believing to) be called a scummy sleazebag on that website makes me want to quit yes. I was fully under the impression I was.

            Also not trying to be a dick but this May have caused confusion:
            Disinterest means having no claims at stake in something, not being affected by it.
            Uninterest means lack of interest. That’s why I said uninterested.

            And smearing someone as a creep for being uninterested (when the person wasn’t rude or pervy) is bad. It doesn’t matter the level of not being interested. That’s obviously what I meant. A rejection is fine in all cases but no reason to give the guy hell.

          • epic woman

            “I can’t believe you are acting like the vast majority of the time the man doesn’t have to make the first move to get a woman’s attention.”

            This isn’t just false, it’s a predatory perspective on heterosexual relationships.

            You assume a man’s “first move” (like “first contact” for aliens?) is made expressly to get a woman’s sexual attention, but most relationships arise from people meeting each other as people and then developing feelings based on that person’s personality. You should reflect on why you consider dating to be about men “getting a woman’s attention” instead of men “getting to know a woman”, because in that difference lies the creep/non-creep distinction.

        • Grackle

          “…you are tempting one more person to leave your movement and denounce it all together. You will probably say ‘we don’t need you’. I guess an individual doesn’t make a difference. I will not oppose sexism when I see it, give any input in my male friend’s evaluations of women that may contribute to equity in their lives because I’m not welcome in the movement.”

          Oh my lord, WHY would you say something like that? I legitimately believe/d that you are trying to be a feminist ally but seriously, if all it takes for you to leave a movement is a few people disagreeing with you, you weren’t really in it in the first place. Dumb, dumb, dumb! You can do better than that.

    • lizor

      Point is why characterize any and all critique of gendered power relations as “screaming”?

      Point is why counter a discussion of a common-as-dirt phenomenon – older men coercing younger women into use of their bodies for sex – with a rare exception where the subaltern person in the gendered hierarchy (that would be women) expresses sexual desire for a younger male object or the even rarer case where an older woman manipulates a younger man into sex on her terms?

      Point is “interactions with a female minor …an emotionally immature girl for sex” DOES entail disrespect, selfishness and usually entailed narcissism.

      And FTR – I am not screaming.

      Hope this helps.

  • http://twitter.com/paleotrees joy

    Yeah, gonna have to side-eye that “most women are attracted to James Franco” line (for one thing: lesbians, anyone?).

    • http://www.veganfeministnetwork.com Corey Wrenn

      Hi Joy, I agree, I don’t mean to speak on behalf of all women, that’s why I said “most” women and also included men, specifically referencing my hetereosexual brother. In my opinion, Franco’s *brand* is intentionally shaped as one of those universal sexualities…something that comedians used quite a bit during his Comedy Central Roast.

      • http://twitter.com/paleotrees joy

        Thanks for your response! It appears I was not clear, though. When you talk about “most women” being attracted to James Franco, it’s great that you’re not talking for all women and I get that, but you’re saying (for example) lesbians are not “most women.” They (we, depending on whom you ask) get that quite a lot, but it can still be grating to assume heterosexuality is the norm for women and homosexuality makes you so incredibly weird you can’t even participate in the class “woman.”

        For the record, I am probably bisexual and just not into dating men, and personally: James Franco hits that “skeevy” panic button in my brain. But I do think known sleazeball Jared Leto has gorgeous hair and uncannily beautiful eyes, so it’s not like I don’t grasp the “holyshit I am attracted to a creep” factor you’re talking about here. Your premise makes sense, in other words — I’m just nitpicking about certain verbiage! Thanks again for engaging.

  • http://aphilosophersblog.wordpress.com VFPM

    FYI: The fan responses on his Facebook and Twitter accounts are an excellent, if appalling, case study in rape culture. I screencapped quite a few to include in my future lectures.

  • marv

    Provocative post Corey! Thanks for your stark honesty about learned gullibility.

    As you are aware, even when celebrities are not known to be sexually exploitative, star power is ideologically patriarchal. It is most often highly gendered and aggrandizing by promoting the celebrity ‘brand’; it upholds disableism, economic inequality, consumerism and corporate capitalism as well; it is fundamentally hierarchical, despite its pretensions to sexual, sex orientation and racial equality. As such it contributes to an already elitist white heterosexual able bodied male political landscape regardless of personal conduct.

  • https://www.facebook.com/dean.robinson.39982 Dean Robinson

    The age of consent in New York is 17 years old. James Franco and Lucy Clode can engage in legal sexual intercourse in New York. The age of consent in Indiana (where I live) is 16 years old. Why is Corey Lee Wrenn talking about rape reports? There is no criminal activity here. The Scottish “girl” or “schoolgirl” is apparently mature enough to travel from the United Kingdom to the United States.

    • Hector

      Yes, this. She was of legal age in New York, and if they’d been in Massachusetts she would have been legal age there at 16. I don’t see what the big deal is here.

  • marv

    Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it is ethical. Sexual harassment used to be legal.

    We live in a society of sexual inequality. Men as a group have hegemonic power over women as a group. All individual sexual relationships take place in this context. Older men pursuing younger women is a clear violation of the dignity and yet to be achieved equality of women. Women sexually dominating men however wrong is not systemic as is the reverse, Moreover, in a rape culture like ours the less men initiate sexual relationships the better for women. Male instigation itself is an obstacle to women’s freedom and equality because we live in a patriarchal world.

  • reel

    I don’t get people defending Franco because it’s “legal.” What Franco did was predatory, another example of the fine rape culture permitted in America. And extra points for him because of his star status.

    • http://amdennehy.wordpress.com amd

      Agreed. it was deeply unpleasant, creepy and predatory behaviour. However,it DOES matter that he is not a paedophile. And anybody who says otherwise is being disingenuous at best.

      • Lo

        Yep predatory behavior. It’s still interesting to know what those adult men (from every age) want from very young women: naivety, immaturity, etc.

        Women are infantilized (this why women are used to act silly/naive, to always smile, look young, etc) as if they have to be children or teenager forever. I’m not saying naive people are children, but that women have to act this way to be called “cute/girl/etc”.

        It’s an interesting comparison and so disturbing also :S

  • http://www.veganfeministnetwork.com Corey Wrenn

    I like how my piece was about women and people are making this all about a man and how great a man is and let’s all protect the man! lol

    • https://www.facebook.com/dean.robinson.39982 Dean Robinson

      Corey, much of the information in your article is pertinent. The rape comments seem out of place. Why are you talking about rape when James Franco did not rape anyone? It does not appear that Franco and Lucy Clode ever made physical contact. The age of consent in New York is 17 years old. The age of consent in Indiana – where I live – is 16 years old. If you believe the law breaks too young and is not restrictive enough, write about that. Franco does not need defense in this situation. There was no crime committed. If you want to talk about Violence Against Women as Entertainment, look into the story about Karen M Soto: “Girl in bikini gets tasered to raise money for charity” on YouTube.

      • marv

        Your definition of violence is too narrow and self-serving. Force also refers to the inequality among social groups which has solidified into institutions. Prostitution for instance is violent even when the john is kind partly because of the inequality of the structured relationships . Older men pursuing younger women is socially unjust and aggressive aside from any personal benevolence or brutality used by the more powerful male social group. Thus, women are dominated by male political configurations not just by men’s individual behaviour. Male prerogative would disappear as a structural form altogether if men and the affluent (generally the same people) did not have more power than women and the poor (usually the same people) as groups. In essence, patriarchy is savagery.

  • http://twitter.com/Hermione333 Hermione Green (@Hermione333)

    He’s a narcissistic asshole that should have kept doing the one thing he knows how to do, act, and instead branched out in a myriad of pointless self-congratulating ‘artistic’ enterprises. Also, friends with Seth Rogen. So yeah, clearly the type comfortable in patriarchy, even without the teenage come-on and the kink doc.

  • Mia H

    “Do I currently have a pedophile on my desktop wallpaper?”

    I’m not comfortable with the use of the word pedophile in this context, especially coming from someone who is probably more aware and conscious of terminology used to describe women in negative terms. I would have thought that awareness would extend to other name calling. You can’t just throw out the word pedophile to anyone displaying attraction to an adolescent, I think it diminishes the seriousness and social understanding of what a pedophile is which is an adult or older adolescent with a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to *prepubescent* children. There is a difference between a prepubescent child and an adolescent teenager. I am not defending Franco’s behaviour here or saying it isn’t creepy for an older man to pursue a teenager, rather that incorrectly labelling him a pedophile diminishes the impact of your argument a bit.

    • marv

      You’re splitting hairs.

  • http://amdennehy.wordpress.com amd

    In Scotland, she is not a minor. I know this because I was born and raised in Glasgow. I was having sex at the same age she is now, and it was legal for me to do so, as the age of consent in Scotland is 16. She also looks 20, at least in every photo I have been able to find of her.

    So, this is a 36 year old man hitting on what he might reasonably have been expected to think was a 20 year old woman.

    I think his insistence was creepy. I think his misuse of the power imbalance in an attempt to push her into dating him was creepy. I don’t think him being attracted to a woman he could reasonably have thought was 16 years his junior was creepy. I would not think a woman of 36 being attracted to a man who looked 20 was creepy either.

    • marv

      Well your wrong. The power disparity favouring men makes any kind of “hitting” on women sexist. Men need to back off and take a passive role when fraternizing with women. In a sexual equality world we would socialize as human to human not as genders.

  • http://amdennehy.wordpress.com amd

    *You’re.

    No. I am not wrong. I SAID the power imbalance was creepy. I SAID his insistence was creepy. I SAID being attracted to someone who you think is 20, aged 36 is not creepy. As in the various paedophile comments I have seen are incorrect. It is not child abuse or paedophilia to be a 36 year old who finds a 20 year old attractive, regardless of sex.

    Nowhere did I say OR imply he should have hit on her.

    Learn reading comprehension before commenting again.

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  • Ellesar

    Being approached by much older men is something the average 17 has to deal with (17 yo males less often). For me this was the WORST period for the endless attention. But as she had instigated contact, and then positively responded to his contacting her – well it is not the average sleazy man in his 30s approaching a teenager. But… then I think ‘him being good looking and famous hardly makes it any better’. So basically I am conflicted. I think that if I had been a fan of a man in his 30s when I was 17 and had the opportunity to hang out with him I would probably have been thrilled. Having sex I might have been a bit less thrilled, but it would have depended how much my fandom was based on a sexual attraction.